A refrigerator is an essential home appliance that you can easily take for granted, but not all refrigerators are the same, and the layout and design of the one that you choose may make a huge difference in the way your food is organized and stored.
French doors offer a functional and practical layout space, and they are also often preferred for storing condiments and beverages due to shelves that line the inside of the doors. Plus, many French-door refrigerators are designed with elegance in mind, helping you to add that finishing touch to your custom kitchen.
The Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE 42-inch French-door refrigerator is an appliance that not only offers that finishing touch, but also offers an integrated, built-in design with panel options. It can also be considered as a commercial fridge in terms of storage space that matches the luxury of your home. Plus LED lighting and an Obsidian interior mean your food will never look the same again – and in this case, that’s a good thing.
A Closer Look at the Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE
Jenn-Air was purchased by Whirlpool in 2006, which led the company from manufacturing fans to producing kitchen appliances, and their over-20 cu.-ft. Jenn-Air JF46NXFXDE refrigerator is a 42-in behemoth that features dual evaporators, a built-in water filter, spill-proof shelves, digital controls, and an “Obsidian Interior.”
The Whirlpool Corporation, in turn, is an American manufacturer of home appliances, headquartered in Michigan. A Fortune 500 company, Whirlpool has an approximate yearly revenue of $21 billion. Popular names that fall under the Whirlpool umbrella include Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, Gladiator GarageWorks, Estate, and Consul.
So the Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE fridge is effectively meant to break into the built-in kitchen design market and offers people the ability to customize styles with optional Custom Wood Panels or Stainless Steel Panels. Plus, Jenn-Air’s proprietary Climate Control System helps to create two zones, one for fresh food and the other for frozen items.
Designed to match any decor, the integrated refrigerator blends with custom cabinetry, creating a seamless appearance when paired with a 25-inch custom cabinet set. Plus, the digital controls and a touch-sensitive display panel result in a fridge that is marked by luxury and a maximum amount of space.
Plus, you will find “Soft Close” technology with all of their drawers, as well as a FreshFlow™ Air Filter that keeps the environment odor-free and fresh. Moreover, the exclusive Obsidian interior is new and makes food colors “pop,” even while they are inside the crisper drawers and the freezer.
And the French door design and modular freezer drawers mean you will never be wanting for space, even after a big party. Plus, if you really want to pimp out your fridge, you can opt for the metal handles with diamond-etched grips. But, hold on to your hats: This stylish fridge starts at well above $8,000, and that’s not including the panels.
A Bit on Counter-Depth, and Professional vs. Integrated
42 Inches wide can often make for a rare cabinet size, and, for this reason, there are usually only a limited number of refrigerator brands to choose from. According to one source, the most common cabinet sizes for refrigerators are 30, 33 and 36 inches, and cabinets that are 48 inches are usually reserved for much larger, commercial-grade fridges.
In terms of professional depth versus regular depth, professional-depth fridges will usually have the compressor on top and come in larger sizes, like 30, 36, 42, and even 48 inches. Regular-depth fridges are shallower in design and do not offer as much cubic space per inch, and the difference in price can range from $2000 to $8000.
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A further distinction in buying a new fridge can be whether or not you want a professional or integrated look, and, while integrated refrigerators will fit flush with a normal 24-inch cabinet, they will often cost more. The upshot is that your refrigerator will be completely camouflaged when installed, whereas professional fridges tend to protrude out at about three inches beyond the cabinet.
Moreover, “Overlay” or “panel-ready” describes a fridge that accommodates add-in panels to match a custom kitchen design. All overlay units are also built-in, although built-ins don’t always come with overlays. A great example of this type of fridge is evidenced by the Sub-Zero refrigeration line, which offers both built-in and overlay versions.
Jenn-Air Compared to Other Brands
Jenn-Air Products Company was founded in 1947 by Louis J. Jenn in Indianapolis, Indiana, and, by and far, the company was known for manufacturing and marketing industrial fans. However, in 1961, one of their fans was used in a cooktop range, and that innovation soon spread across the cooktop industry.
Soon, the company began making kitchen appliances themselves, later expanding into other kitchenware areas, including dishwashers, microwave ovens, refrigerators, and other items. Then, in 2006, Whirlpool bought the company, seeing its potential as their top-tier brand, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Having invested a reported $300 million in Jenn-Air over the last few years, Whirlpool hopes to offer upscale the line’s features to compete with Sub-Zero, Miele, and Thermador at a considerably lower price point. The Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE is a luxury French-door cabinet depth refrigerator that fills this bill, especially when you consider the many rebates that were included with its purchase.
With a sleek look, unique interior, and electronic climate control, it was even mentioned in a list of the top five 42-inch professional counter depth refrigerators due to its French door design and Obsidian interior. Unfortunately, the same site also mentions that KitchenAid makes a very similar fridge for less money.
And the first product on the list is actually a fridge from True. The True TR42SBS starts at $16,429, and it’s a product from a family-owned refrigeration and coolant company out of St. Louis. Their products are recognized for their handmade craftsmanship and durability, and the True TR42SBS offers an all-metal interior, commercial hinges, and LED strip lighting.
However, the Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE was hard to pass up when it offered substantial promotional deals in 2016, including rebates and a free dishwasher or range hood with qualified purchases. This, no doubt, helped to soften the then $8500 price tag, and further promotes the company’s new Obsidian interior, which it hoped to market successfully for years to come.
So we’ve talked a little about the types of fridges and about the ultra-high-end True brand. Now, let’s continue with some of Jenn-Air’s closest competitors.
Sub-Zero is also a family-owned company, but it is based out of Wisconsin and it is often regarded as the commercial-grade go-to fridge.
That reputation is based on quality engineering and food innovations like vacuum seals on doors and magnetic crispers designed to keep air away from the most perishable foods within the fridge. Moreover, a twin-compressor design helps to keep freezer and refrigerator air separate and fresh, minimizing the chances of cross-contamination.
Plus, with one of the best air purifiers on the market and a great water filtration system too, Sub-Zero ices much of the built-in refrigerator market. However, their commercial fridges start at $10,000 and the price rises steadily from there.
Thermador, on the other hand, is a subsidiary of the Bosch Company known for manufacturing refrigerator columns, and their T24IR800SP + T18IF800SP offer a lot of flexibility when designing your custom kitchen. Just remember, you’ll have to buy the fridge and freezer as separate units.
And, finally, Frigidaire is owned by the Electrolux Corporation, which is reportedly the second largest appliance corporation worldwide. Frigidaire refrigerators are known for their “smudge-proof” stainless steel finishes, though their products are not in direct competition with Jenn-Air. The Frigidaire FPHG2399PF reportedly costs only $2499 after rebates.
Jen-Air Offers Luxury at a Reasonable Price
While True offers quality, American-made construction and a durable, high-end product, $16,000 is a lot of money, and even Sub-Zero has a hard time climbing to meet that price point. Speaking of Sub-Zero, though, they really do sit atop the built-in refrigerator market in terms of quality and innovation.
Jenn-Air, Thermador, and KitchenAid make more than decent refrigerators, and, sometimes, you will find innovations here and there. But if you want top-of-the-line, you’ll need to pay for top-of-the-line. That said, let’s take a look at those features again, courtesy of Consumer Reports:
The Obsidian interiors and the other thoughtful features in the Jenn-Air JF 42NXFXDE offers some pretty nice food storage for its price point.
Further, the Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE measures 83 inches tall, 42 inches wide, and 26 inches deep, with a total capacity of 21.8 cu ft. But as big as it is, it is also customizable, with the exterior wood panels completing the integrated look. You can also keep the stainless steel look to match other appliances if desired.
Moreover, the TwinFresh™ Climate Control System creates two cooling environments, one for the fridge and the other for the freezer, and Multi-Point LED Theater Lighting boasts visibility against the black interior. Glass shelves with metal trims show food from all angles, and Soft-Close technology ensures drawers will not shut too hard but securely close.
Plus, lighted touch controls allow for intuitive and easy setting changes, and dual crisper drawers delay over-ripening by locking out air. The automatic ice maker with storage drawer means you’ll always be ready to entertain.
Finally, chill trays make storing hors-d'oeuvres and desserts at eye level a quick and easy affair, and the gallon door storage makes for fast access to party drinks.
Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE Wrap-Up
Jenn-Air’s new line of built-in refrigerators all offer the matte black interior called Obsidian, as well as extensive LED strip lights to match. Although Jenn-Air makes a big deal of this in their marketing, some reviewers have found that the over-abundance of lights are distracting and create lots of unwanted shadows.
Moreover, it seems that more lights than usual are needed to illuminate the Obsidian, as the black interior absorbs all ambient light. Other criticisms include the fact that it is actually more difficult to see food against the black interior when the fridge is packed full, and the consensus seems to be that even more light is needed for a better full-fridge daily-use experience.
On a positive note, drawers and shelves seem to be stable and sturdy, improved by brushed aluminum supports and Soft-Close technology. The ice drawer also has its own separate pull out, which proves to be surprisingly handy.
Overall, though, in order to compete for the top-of-the-line built-in refrigerator billing, the Jen-Air JF42NXFXDE will need to tweak its interiors a bit. Other than that, the model has got a lot going for it, and we are excited to see where Obsidian takes the Jenn-Air and Whirlpool brands.